The Red-fingered Anglerfish has bumpy skin that resembles the sponges among which it is often found.
Its camouflage is enhanced by the presence of smooth, dark spots on the body of the fish that resemble the pores on the surface of a sponge.
The fish was brought to the attention of the Australian Museum when an image, taken by Dr Rob Harcourt, was sent for identification. Museum staff could not identify the fish, so forwarded the image to anglerfish expert Dr Ted Pietsch who stated that the fish may be a new genus. Dr Pietsch requested that the fish be collected and sent to him for examination. Dr Harcourt and dive buddies R. Fea and J. Coombs, applied for and were granted a DPI Fisheries permit to collect specimens. After a long search one specimen was collected. Since then, the team have dived many times without managing to find another fish.
The species was described by Rachel Arnold and co-authors in 2014 - see reference below. It is currently only known from scattered localities between the Sydney region and Jervis Bay, New South Wales. Individuals of this unusual fish grow to at least 7.5 cm in standard length.
This fish has often been called the Bare Island Anglerfish because it is most commonly encountered there. It has been observed in the following locations:
- Indian Point, Botany Bay - on the reef that extends towards Bare Island from the headland between Little Congwong Beach and Henry's Head. Approximate depth 6 m.
- Bare Island Sponge Gardens, Botany Bay - on the right side of the Island towards the deep wall. Approximate depth 14 m.
- South Head, Sydney Harbour - The site is accessed by walking from Camp Cove to Lady Bay Beach, then snorkeling around the headland. Approximate depth 10 m.
- Bass Point Shellharbour. This fish was guarding eggs.
- Middle Ground, Jervis Bay, 24 m.
- Arnold, R.J., Harcourt, R., & T.W. Pietsch. 2014. New genus and species of the frogfish family Antennariidae (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennarioidei) from New South Wales, Australia, with a diagnosis and key to the genera of the Histiophryninae.
- Pietsch, T.W. & D.B. Grobecker. 1987. Frogfishes of the World. Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioural Ecology. Stanford University Press. Pp. 420.